Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has faulted Plem Construction for its poor and substandard work on some of the upgraded roads in the city of Lilongwe, and has since ordered the Lilongwe City Council not to pay the contractor until it fixes the second-rate roads to required standards.
Plem Construction is one of the three contractors the council engaged to upgrade six of the roads in the city under the City Roads Upgrading Programme which the ministry is implementing in all four cities of the country.
Other contractors are TAAI Construction and Mota Engil.
However, some of the upgraded roads especially those done by Plem Construction are of poor standard and have started developing potholes, drifts and cracks, generating public outcry considering how much government spent on the project.
Some of the faulted roads include a 1.5 kilometre Chilinde Parish to NAPHAM Kawale road which the company upgraded in 2015/16 financial year; NCIC to ZBS via Ngwenya Trading Centre (2.69 Kilometres) and 3-kilometer Biwi across Chidzanja to Area 23 via Chipasula road upgraded in 2016/17 financial year.
In a memo dated April 24th, 2017 (Ref. LG/RD/1/2) and signed by Secretary for Local Government and Rural Development, Kiswell Dakamau, Plem Construction has been accused of using poor quality and cheap materials in upgrading the three highlighted roads, thereby compromising the roads’ standards.
“The 2015/16 Financial Year roads were completed with good quality except for the Chilinde Parish to NAPHAM Kawale Road by PLEM Construction which has a number of road failures,” noted Dakamau in the memo directed to Lilongwe City Council Chief Executive Officer Moza Zeleza.
“These roads were done to bituminous (cape seal) surfacing which is a middle level quality as opposed to asphalt which is high quality. This middle level surface quality is said to have been chosen after the consultant objected to a chip seal surface (very low quality), which was chosen by the councillors so as to do more kilometres at a cheaper cost.
“The 2016/17 Financial Year roads have also been completed with good quality except, again, for Two (2) being constructed by PLEM Construction which are NCIC to ZBS via Ngwenya Trading Centre and Biwi across Chidzanja to Area 23 via Chipasula…. The works are not good on these two (2) roads and this has generated a great public outcry.”
In the letter, Dakamau noted that upgrading works on the two roads by Plem Construction are still in progress after the consulting engineer had withdrawn his services due to non-payment of his fees as the council failed to renew his contract.
Supervising consultant, Henderson and Partners, is reported to have withdrawn its services due to disagreement with the council over the poor quality standards of some of the upgraded roads by Plem Construction.
Lilongwe City Council has been blamed for failing to professionally manage the issue of the consulting engineer and for ‘gross laxity’ in supervising both the consulting engineer and the contactor (Plem Construction).
Meanwhile, the council has since been ordered to ensure Plem Construction’s work is reassessed and that the faulted roads are upgraded to the required standards.
“All the roads by Plem Construction are reassessed by the Consulting Engineer and that the Contractor goes back on site to remedy all defects to bring the roads to the required standards; no certificate of the contractor should be paid before the said defects have been remedied,” demanded Dakamau.
However, the company in reaction to the public outcry, said it was taking action to fix, patch and reconstruct roads that have developed potholes, drifts and cracks in northern city of Mzuzu and also rectify problems on Lilongwe upgraded roads.
Plem Construction Company site agent Burnet Rodgers Ngoma said: “The upgrading of Area 24 Road was highly affected by the rainy season. We did not complete it as there is one more layer remaining which we will do by next week.”
Dakamau has revealed the ministry has commenced disciplinary action against the council for gross negligence as it has been failing to submit progress reports on the upgraded roads.